One might laugh at the above title. How can the kitchen in a house/flat/condo/hdb/whatever be responsible for the decline of cuisine in a country that almost seems to be bursting at the seams with it?
Well, let us look at it from one perspective. Where do people learn to cook? I doubt that your average school leaver will graduate and walk straight into any restaurant or hawker centre as a fresh slate with no cooking experience at all. No chef would want to employ such a person and train them from scratch. Surely? I would therefore guess that the majority of chefs in Singapore learned their art by some expert guidance and wise words from their mother/father and figured out the rest whilst experimenting in their kitchen at home. I’d love to hear more views on this.
Now let us get to the part about the kitchen. The kitchen in my in-laws place is huge and has more than enough space to get the old pestle and mortar out to give some good ingredients a swift grinding. It seems like a perfect place for a master and student to transfer and create culinary knowledge. However, everything I’ve seen that was built during or after the late 90’s seems to have the tiniest of kitchens. The kitchen at my last place was tiny and my current place is tiny. I stand in them sometimes and wonder if these are really places for a mother & daughter/father & son/budding experimenter to engage in their crafts and figure things out. Barely two people can stand in the same kitchen and not get under each others’ feet.
The excuse? “Young people seldom cook these days lah. Where got need for a big kitchen? Young people just eat out.” Indeed, but I doubt the lack of interest in food could be a factor here. Singaporeans LOVE their food whether young or old; and I’m sure they would be interested to learn how to make such creations if given a chance. What about when ‘young’ people throw parties at their house too? Surely they need a place to store all the takeout stuff and litres of soda/beer/wine/etc. I gravely fear that this modern view on kitchen architecture could tragically lead to the ultimate death of Singapore’s magnificent cuisine. The young people will become old people one day (yes they will) and will have nothing to pass on to their children or have a complete lack of space to pass anything on. What do you think? I seriously hope not.
Naturally, this is not going to happen in the next year and even the next 30 years. Singapore will also have a steady flow of new immigrants coming into the country, all with something to offer. However, if they are in housing that does not allow them to practice their arts though, their food might be left behind in their country of origin. I guess this thought could be taken further. Or perhaps I’m being too negative about this and looking at it all the wrong way.
In my next house I’m going to have a HUGE kitchen. With a breakfast bar installed and places to store all my crap. If the architecture doesn’t allow it… some walls are getting smashed. (Shame I can’t do this right now because of the structural walls of bomb shelter in the way).